Barbara Ulrich shares her experience as an owner of an ecotourism business in Gardiner, MT, the doorstep of Yellowstone Park. Faced with the government’s troubling treatment of wolves, bison and other wildlife when they step outside the boundary of Park, Barbara became a leader of a community-based effort to improve state management. Her intelligent, low-key, but persistent style has paid off, with Montana’s adoption of more benign wolf policies. Feeding her curiosity about how the natural world works, Barbra went on mid-career to pursue graduate work looking for signals of past changes in climate in microbes that flourish in bison poop.
"I think it's a mistake for people who come here and think that they’re going to "do" Yellowstone on a brief summer visit, because it is so diverse. As a guide, frequently I have people just for one day, like an 8-hour tour. To be able to give them a glimpse into some of the subtleties of the landscape, I find it absolutely imperative to get off the beaten path, even if it's just for a half an hour or a little hike."
"Wolves and the bears are the draw -- that’s why people come up here, they want to see wolves and bears -- but those animals are part of a much more intricate and complex system. That’s the real meat of what we’re trying to help people understand."
"I think we really have to understand ultimately what our impact on the ecosystem is and understand very clearly, that there’s a point beyond which we could impact it such that the animals won’t be around -- and it will ultimately put us all out of business."
"I remember when I met the governor, I said I was so pleased to meet him, and: "This won’t be the last time you’ll be hearing from me." And clearly it was not."
"One of our biggest successes was that we were able to get Fish Wildlife and Parks to agree to limit the number of wolves that can be taken out of two hunting units that exist just north of Yellowstone National Park."
"So honestly if you have an interest and you’re willing to put in the time and effort, the possibilities are really quite endless I found out."
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